The Redeemer community was shocked and saddened when Bethany Sider, a student in Redeemer’s education program, passed away on January 15 from injuries she sustained in a car accident earlier that week. Bethany was from Canfield, just south of Hamilton.
Bethany’s parents said that she considered Redeemer “one of her families.” At her funeral service and later at a Service of Thanksgiving held on campus, friends and family remembered Bethany as a vibrant, caring student whose impact on others was shaped by an exuberant joy and an unshakable faith.
Redeemer’s chaplain, Deb Roberts, said that Bethany had “The gift of presence. Her focus, her empathy and encouragement, were always directed to the people with whom she engaged at that moment.” Naomi Zagala, a fellow B.Ed. student, saw that in so many of the interactions Bethany had with friends and faculty at Redeemer. “It would take a half an hour for Bethany to walk from one side of the school to the other,” she said, “because she had to talk with everyone she met. And in the constant tension Bethany felt between the demands of school and the calling to spend more time with friends, the person always won.” It’s not surprising that in the photos and videos shown at the Service, there were few of just Bethany — she was almost always seen arm-in-arm with friends.
Her love of people was surpassed only by her love of Jesus and the impact it had on her life. “It’s rare to see a young person fixed on eternal things,” Rev. Ralph ten Brinke of Dunnville’s Jubilee Community Church said of Bethany. “Yet when we set our hearts on the eternal it changes everything. Bethany knew that.” Bethany shared with friends her desire to leave a legacy of love that reflected Christ’s love to her. At her funeral, friends recalled that Bethany would ask herself “Did I choose to love? Did I point to You enough to make a mark?”
The loss of Bethany is painful beyond words for her family and friends, and her impact will linger because of the knowledge of the eternal she held so dear. Her life resonated with and reflected the anticipation of future wonder and grandeur. “I’m not sure you realize how prophetic you were when you gave Bethany the middle name Gloria,” Chaplain Roberts said to her parents. “For her life truly was a peek into the glory of God.”
Bethany will be missed, by many, for a long time. As her friend Naomi noted at the funeral service, what she brought won’t be forgotten. “Your joy cannot be diminished,” she pointed out, “because your joy is beyond this world.”
Bethany Sider is survived by her mother Kim (Jim) Huitema, father Karl (Nancy) Sider, one step-sister and four step-brothers; one step-brother, Jordan, predeceased Bethany.